Monday, October 10, 2011


After crossing an enormous marmot-laden pasture in upper Val Bedretto, I felt the first raindrops at the top of a grassy knoll just when the deserted mountain hamlet of San Giacomo came into view.

A couple of ugly modern buildings sat across from an old-fashioned mountain chapel. Mom picked me up and walked right into the chapel, breaking her no-dogs-in-churches rule.

The sky crashed above us. Two bright flashes came through the door of the chapel. I started shaking uncontrollably, but I did not bark nor howl.

Dad and I monitor MeteoSuisse obsessively, especially if we are going to hike at 8,000 feet in the Alps. MeteoSuisse had mentioned storms—but only overnight. This was a rogue guest storm, crashing in from Italy.

The storm pushed its way farther east as quickly as it had arrived. Thunder and lightning still reverberated through the mountains, but the rain rapidly abated. Our route continued west, away from the storm. I couldn’t stop shivering, so Dad carried me for almost a mile.

Our mountainside trail afforded us a commanding view of the valley far below and the black clouds traveling away from us. Yet very quickly, a thick layer of fog—the backlash from the receding storm—engulfed us. The fog was not as eerie as it sounds because the trail was a veritable highway.

As we descended toward the Nufenen Pass road, we saw our reserved Swiss Postal bus arriving to pick us up. Super driver Mario had come specially just for us.

Mario asked Dad, “Cosa fate in montagna con la borsa da viaggio?” (“What are you doing in the mountains with a duffel bag?”)

Mario’s jaw dropped right next to the gas pedal as Dad and Mom showed him that the duffel bag was actually my transcontinental house, with me inside.

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